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Gender: Male
Hometown: Heart of Dixie
Home country: USA
Current location: Montgomery Alabama
Member since: Fri Apr 4, 2014, 03:21 PM
Number of posts: 14,012

Journal Archives

Gun Control Is as Old as the Old West

Contrary to the popular imagination, bearing arms on the frontier was a heavily regulated business

Source: Smithsonian.com, by Matt Jancer


The “Old West” conjures up all sorts of imagery, but broadly, the term is used to evoke life among the crusty prospectors, threadbare gold panners, madams of brothels, and six-shooter-packing cowboys in small frontier towns – such as Tombstone, Deadwood, Dodge City, or Abilene, to name a few. One other thing these cities had in common: strict gun control laws.


Laws regulating ownership and carry of firearms, apart from the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, were passed at a local level rather than by Congress. “Gun control laws were adopted pretty quickly in these places,” says Winkler. “Most were adopted by municipal governments exercising self-control and self-determination.” Carrying any kind of weapon, guns or knives, was not allowed other than outside town borders and inside the home. When visitors left their weapons with a law officer upon entering town, they’d receive a token, like a coat check, which they’d exchange for their guns when leaving town.


The practice was started in Southern states, which were among the first to enact laws against concealed carry of guns and knives, in the early 1800s. While a few citizens challenged the bans in court, most lost. Winkler, in his book Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, points to an 1840 Alabama court that, in upholding its state ban, ruled it was a state’s right to regulate where and how a citizen could carry, and that the state constitution’s allowance of personal firearms “is not to bear arms upon all occasions and in all places.”


Frontier towns with and without gun legislation were violent places, more violent than family-friendly farming communities and Eastern cities of the time, but those without restrictions tended to have worse violence. “I’ve never seen any rhetoric from that time period saying that the only thing that’s going to reduce violence is more people with guns,” says Winkler. “It seems to be much more of a 20th-century attitude than one associated with the Wild West.


Read it all at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gun-control-old-west-180968013/

Nary a gun in sight!

For the first time, a woman and non-Christian will lead this group...

that thinks government is too involved in religion

Source: Washington Post, by Michelle Boorstein


Rachel Laser, a lawyer and longtime advocate on issues related to reproductive freedom, LGBT equality and racism, is the new executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. She is the first woman and, as a Jew, the first non-Christian to lead the 71-year-old group.


Laser (rhymes with JAZZ-er) also has experience building bridges. For five years the University of Chicago Law School graduate worked for Third Way, a progressive think tank aimed at finding common ground with evangelical Christians, in particular on issues such as reproductive health, gay equality and torture. She worked with Trump adviser Sam Rodriguez and Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter (who pastored President Barack Obama) on a measure that supported both contraception access and sexual health education (sometimes seen as more liberal causes) as well as help for pregnant mothers and new parents (sometimes seen as causes of abortion opponents).


In the past couple of years, Laser has worked on curriculum and consulting related to racism and white privilege. She hopes that African Americans will be among the communities she can inspire to be more active in protecting separation.

Her goal: rebrand the fight for the separation of religion and government “so we can win big like we did with marriage equality.”

What would “winning big” mean on this complex issue?

Laser pauses. “It means freedom of religion will be about a diverse, vibrant country, and not a monolithic, culturally favored religion in this country.”

Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/02/21/for-the-first-time-a-woman-and-non-christian-will-lead-this-group-that-thinks-government-is-too-involved-in-religion/

Does the Second Amendment really protect assault weapons? Four courts have said no.

Source: Washington Post, by Meagan Flynn and Fred Barbash


“Nine terrified children ran from one of the classrooms when the gunman paused to reload, while two youngsters successfully hid in a restroom,” Judge Robert B. King of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote in the majority opinion. “Another child was the other classroom’s sole survivor. In all, the gunman fired at least 155 rounds of ammunition within five minutes, shooting each of his victims multiple times.”

The court ruled that the ban on assault weapons like the one Adam Lanza used at Sandy Hook — like the one that police say Nikolas Cruz confessed to using at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 and that Omar Mateen used at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub in June 2016 and Stephen Paddock used from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 — was constitutional.

It was not the first time a federal appeals court had ruled that a ban on assault weapons was permissible under the Second Amendment. It was the fourth time in the past decade. In fact, no federal appeals court has ever held that assault weapons are protected.


The Supreme Court has declined to review any of these cases. A reason may be that at the moment there is no split among the appeals courts across the country, a factor that heavily influences the high court’s choice of cases. The appeals courts have all agreed that assault weapons bans are okay.

Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/02/22/does-the-second-amendment-really-protect-assault-weapons-four-courts-have-said-no/

Dow closes more than 200 points lower as Walmart posts worst day since October 2015

I know, I know, it's terrible about 'the money.'

But you know? Wall Street and Walmart? We are who we are!

Oh. Welcome back to Washington, Mr. Precedent! Enjoy your vacation?

Source: CNBC, by Alexandra Gibbs

The Dow Jones industrial average fell sharply on Tuesday, pressured by a steep decline in Walmart shares and a rise in interest rates.

The 30-stock index closed 258 points lower — snapping a six-day winning streak, with shares of Walmart shedding 10 percent. The retail giant's stock posted its biggest decline since October 2015.

The S&P 500 pulled back 0.6 percent, with consumer staples declining more than 2 percent. Walmart was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500. Kroger and Kraft Heinz, which are also in the staples sector, were among the worst-performing stocks in the index.


Read the rest at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/20/us-stock-futures-dow-data-earnings-and-politics.html

A Descendant of Robert E. Lee Speaks Out Against the Sin of White Supremacy

Source: The Progressive, by Eric Gunn

The Reverend Rob Lee has an unusual vantage point from which to view this time of deep political polarization.


Lee, twenty-five, emerged as a distinctive voice last year in the movement to remove monuments to his ancestor and other Confederate leaders. After last summer’s rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by an automobile driven by a rally participant, Lee made public statements against white supremacy in his capacity as a church pastor.

Rev. Lee says:

We’re entering a world of cultural evangelicals, not spiritual evangelicals. Those people engage in culture in such a way that they are conservative, they have conservative values, but they’re willing to vote for a man who said he would grab a woman by her private parts. That’s not Christianity to me.

What we’re seeing is almost the de-evolution of the evangelicalism and conservative evangelicalism that started with the Moral Majority. This is a real problem for Christians, especially progressive Christians like myself, who see this as a grave injustice to the faith. This is a real problem.

We’re all tired of hearing evangelicals talk about President Trump as if he’s a savior. I think this is in my realm of responsibility today. Many Christians have normalized what Donald Trump is doing. That’s really scary. That means we’re getting in bed with the empire. Jesus was very clear about those things that we weren’t supposed to be in touch with, and one of those was the empire. I think some evangelicals are selling their souls to the Republican Party.

I don’t know what the future holds in terms of this movement or this mission, but I know that none of us are going away any time soon. I think there’s a potential for us to come together in a different way, to really work hard. Being in the pulpit—it’s a balancing act there. But you have to remember that you have to be true to yourself as well.

Read it all at: http://progressive.org/dispatches/speak-up-and-speak-out-rev-rob-lee-180215/

"Labels fail me: Am I still an Evangelical?"

Another voice shouting from the Bible Belt!

Source: AL.com, by Dana Hall McCain

So why the discomfort with the label?

It's because I have awakened in mid-life to find the label as frequently associated with the political as the spiritual. It started with a seemingly innocent commingling of the two in the 1980s. The idea was to mobilize conservative Christians in order to have our values better heard and represented in Washington.

When we believe that government--rather than our own submission to Christ and evangelism--is the whole ballgame, or even the most important facet of it, we become vulnerable to all sorts of compromises needed to win and maintain power. Truth is no longer what we pursue at all costs--power is, because we believe we can't live without it. (First century Christians would LOL at the thought.)

The second problem is that when we come to associate one political party, wholly and without exception, with the cause of Christ, but we don't do the hard work of bringing that party to heel regarding the values of Christ, we're no longer leading. We are being led. Such is the relationship between Evangelicals and the GOP. We don't bring our weight to bear in the party for causes like DACA, because we're prone to embrace and hold up as immutable truth the party talking points on immigration, even when they are at odds with the words of Christ.

Call me dogmatic, but I'll go with the words in red over what the Steven Millers of the world espouse when the two disagree. And I won't tell you that hateful speech, or arrogance, or trite dishonesty from any president is a good thing, even if some of his policy positions align with my own. We've lost the guts needed to take our own people to the woodshed, because we've believed that our primary job is to beat Democrats instead of the Devil.

The Devil is delighted by this misunderstanding.

Read it all at: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/02/labels_fail_me_am_i_still_an_e.html

Facts, Truth and Meaning

Excerpt from: Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Interview with Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms and Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith.


In my book, I’m making an argument for the recovery of a broader, richer understanding of the imagination. Reason and imagination are paired faculties: we need both in order to think about anything. In order to make reasoned judgments, such as whether something is true or false, we first have to have something meaningful to think about, and that’s where the imagination comes in: it creates meaning.

Thus, at its heart, an apologetics approach that is imaginative is one that is focused on the creation of meaning. So much of the time, when we use Christian terms or concepts in apologetics and evangelization, we’re using words that are empty of meaning for our listener, or that have had their meaning twisted or trivialized. When we talk about ‘sin,’ people think it just means ‘fun stuff that Christians don’t want us to do.’ When we talk about ‘heaven,’ people often think it means ‘spirits floating around on clouds.’ (I say this as a former atheist who thought precisely that!) If people think sin is no big deal and heaven is boring, then they aren’t going to understand what we say about these things – if they are even interested enough to listen at all. In order for our apologetics discussions to be fruitful, we need our words and ideas to carry real meaning for our listeners – and that’s where imaginative apologetics comes into play.


One of the key points in my chapter on metaphor is that both figurative and literal language are modes of communication of truth (or falsehood, as the case may be). It is not the case that metaphors are somehow inherently ‘less true’ than propositional language. Scripture is packed full of metaphors, and we can only make sense of what the Bible says if we recognize that this is non-literal, truth-bearing language. Jesus is described as ‘the Lamb of God’: this is a true statement, but it does not mean that the Second Person of the Trinity was incarnate as a baby sheep (we recognize that this would be a very stupid reading of the text). Rather, we see that this powerful image tells us who Jesus is, and what his mission is: he is pure, innocent, gentle; he is also the sacrifice for our sins. We can say all these things in propositional language, but it does not convey the holistic meaning of ‘the Lamb of God,’ in which all these different meanings are simultaneously present and taken in, through the image.

Metaphors, in short, are effective because they are potent (packing a lot of meaning into a single image) and because they are interactive (the reader or hearer has to engage with the image to grasp the metaphor). They are thus highly generative of meaning.


Devil on the 'Go to Church' sign has an intriguing backstory

I bet every state has at least one of these 'stranger than fiction' stories!

Source: AL.com, by Kelly Kazek

This familiar "iconic" sign on I 65 between Montgomery and Birmingham is going back up after a storm took it down a while ago:

There is another "iconic" roadside attraction between Montgomery and Prattville on HWY 31. This thing is so "out there" a few years ago I got my family to don tin-foil hats and pose around it for photos (lost in a computer crash). We called it "The Pratt." What the hell is this?

Now, the rest of the story.

In this photo, the Red Devil sign is seen in front of the Tan-Kar Oil Service Station. It is this devil that W.S. Newell used on his iconic "Go to Church or the Devil Will Get You" sign that has been seen along Interstate 65 since 1988. It is currently being replaced following a storm but the original devil was saved.

Do you see what's lurking in the background in this photo?

After the story was published, I received an email from Ralph Foster, a reader who told me the sign was not the first appearance of the long-tailed devil.

"The red devil silhouette actually is much older," he wrote. "It was part of a tin sheet-metal neon sign on Highway 31 between Montgomery and Prattville, marking the Tan-Kar gas station at Red Devil Lake. The devil sign survived the closure and demolition of the old station and remained abandoned on the highway until Mr. [W.S.] Newell acquired it from the property owners. He then used it on his now famous 'Go to Church' sign."

On the left, there is that "thing" again.

And then (some might say, "Of course!" ):

In August of 1939, the dam at Red Devil Lake burst. The book "Prattville, Alabama: A Brief History of the Fountain City" includes this recollection from resident Gene Kerlin: "It was the worst flood Prattville ever had. The Red Devil dam broke. A railroad trestle downtown was also destroyed in the flood." The waters caused $250,000 in damage, the book said.

Read all of it at:http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2018/02/devil_on_the_go_to_church_sign.html#incart_m-rpt-2

9 faith leaders on "thoughts and prayers" - and action - after tragedy

Reverend Frank Scott: So what resolution should we make for the New Year?

It's to let God know that you have the guts and the will to do it alone. Resolve to fight for yourselves, and for others, for those you love.

And that part of God within you will be fighting with you all the way.
-- "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972)

Source: Vox, by Tara Isabella Burton


Offering “thoughts and prayers” after such tragedies is so common that it has become a model for performative sympathy and inaction. It’s the title of a satirical video game in which players are challenged to use “thoughts and prayers” to stop school shootings (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work). It’s the title, too, of a particularly cynical BoJack Horseman episode about mass shootings, in which beleaguered film producers find themselves rolling their eyes while they trot out the phrase, again and again, in response to real events as they try to get back to the “actually pressing business of making sure the movie gets made.”

But for faith leaders from a variety of traditions, prayer — particularly prayer after a mass tragedy — is more than a byword for inaction. For some, it’s an opportunity to engage with a higher power, or to express sorrow, sympathy, or solidarity. For some others, it’s the first step toward taking meaningful real-world action. And for others still, it’s an excuse to do too little.

We talked to members of the clergy from different Christian denominations, and faith leaders from religious traditions more broadly, about the role of prayer after a tragedy and what it really means to offer “thoughts and prayers” to those in need. Their responses have been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity (subtitles only, much more at link):

• Prayer can be a powerful grounding force

• Prayer reminds us to reflect on others

• “I want people to stop going to church and start being the church”

• Prayer can move God’s heart

• Prayer is a form of submission to God’s will

• Prayer means reflecting on hard truths

• Prayer and action feed off each other

• Acknowledging the suffering of others is important, even if the phrasing is trite

• God may move your heart through prayer to show you how to act

Read it all at: https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/10/3/16408658/9-faith-leaders-action-after-tragedy-florida-shooting-majory-stoneman-douglas

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